Sometimes it seems like the world is out to get you, doesn’t it? Japandroids were given about 45 minutes before Barbary’s YachtRock party took precedence at 9:15pm to put on a barreling rock show. But their tour’s theme “Everything is Fucked” reared its ugly head last night. “Par for the course,” guitarist and primary screamer Brian King explained as sound man Joe got his mic up and running after it blew. Maybe it’s Philly that has it out for the Vancouver, BC lo-fi guitar and drums duo. The last time JPNDRDS were in Philly their amp exploded on stage and they had to buy another one “down the street so we could continue the tour.”
Nevertheless, King and his kickass drummer David Prowse managed fill the room with their blasting, energetic fuzzy garage sound. Opening their set with the aptly chosen “No Allegiance to the Queen” from their Lullaby Death Jams EP with the opening “We need aiiiiiirrrrrr” howl felt fitting. It was our first chance to hear King really wail and, boy, can he. He can go loud, harsh, long and, well, he must know how to fill those lungs and let em’ out right.
The all-ages no-booze crowd seemed about right: teenage angst was present and at the front of the stage screaming back almost every lyric and moshing a little at the singles. “The Boys Are Leaving Town”—the high-energy drum-rolling anthemic opener to their first full LP Post-Nothing—was no disappointment. King gets really into it, jumping around, whipping his hair along with his spastic playing, jumping onto the platform in front of Prowse’s drumset to wave his guitar around and up in his buddy’s face. It was endearing. When sound was not an issue King let out intermittent “Wooooo!”s and “Yeah!”s between bouts of guitar-trashing.
After a new, slower song, they did “Rockers East Vancouver,” a song the drummer sings and it killed. After “Cold as Ice,” a favorite of mine from Post-Nothing with the lyric “Your heart as cold as ice/ I should know/ I’ve been to the North Pole,” they dove into “Darkness On The Edge of Gastown” from Lullaby. An angrier tune with a “Tell her!” reprise.
Unfortunately, this is where the shit started to hit the fan. This was our longest pause to figure out technical difficulties where the drummer was forced to entertain us with chit-chat while King’s mic got fixed. “Does anybody here like parties?” he asked sheepishly. “Can you tell us where to get a good cheesesteak?” he asked to shouts of “Tony Luke’s!” before a “Jim’s! Jim’s! Jim’s!” chant broke out.
We thought we were good to go again when they ripped into the single, “Young Hearts Spark Fire.” The crowd was pumped. “OK, here we go for a rousing second wind.” No. Mic went out again. “Start again!” came shouted from the crowd. After another pause for sound help, we were back on track for them to finally wail out the single like it should be. “I don’t wanna worry about dyin’/ I just wanna worry about sunshine girls,” never sounded so good.
It seems like the air was pretty much let out of the room, though. Being nice Canadians they apologized profusely, and informed us they had time for only one more song. “Crazy Forever” was the overwhelming request from the crowd, so they ended with it. And it ruled. Next time they tour maybe they’ll be as big as No Age or Vivian Girls and get their asses to Johnny Brenda’s or the Church to put on a proper face-melting set. But it was good while it lasted.
By Bill “The Shit” Chenevert, PW music intern and Real Boss Hoss.
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An upstate country boy who was Johnny HighSchool, went to an expensive liberal arts college and took about 20 English classes, went to graduate school in Oregon for a couple years then came back to the Empire state and tried to pass as a city boy for a minute. Now I'm Philly and I love it.